Home > Bp. Breidenthal, Fisks, Sanctification, Theology > On Going Home Again: Responses to Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter Sermon, (Part 3 of Many)

On Going Home Again: Responses to Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter Sermon, (Part 3 of Many)

31 May 2010

Continuing my fisk of Bp. Breidenthal’s 2010 Easter Sermon:

“And they saw in Jesus’ resurrection the possibility that whatever had gone wrong in the human race was receiving the possibility of a new beginning. So that what God intended in the first place for our glory and God’s glory could once again be picked up and carried on with, so that we in Christ might begin to move toward our original perfection; To receive through Him a new innocence, to move again towards our destiny, as that creature given power to give voice to every creature under Heaven – to worship God, to know God, and to give thanks to God for God’s creative act.”

 – Bp. Breidenthal (from Easter 2010 Sermon)  

The phrases, “toward our original perfection,” and “receive .. new innocence,” suggest a re-pristination of our original state of innocence in the Garden of Eden. 

Actually, I want nothing to do with Adam’s original innocence. It is naive, weak, and is prone to choose spiritual death even when it has the ability to choose otherwise.  Put simply, I want my soul to be better than innocent; and I want to do more than glorifying God through merely keeping a simple Covenant of Works. 

Fortunately, it would seem that God feels the same way: 

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

– Romans 5:18-21 (ESV)

Here, the “one man’s disobedience” is referring to Adam’s sin, the consequence of which is Original Sin (i.e., we are born sinners). And the “one man’s obedience” is Christ obeying God’s Laws, and rejecting the temptations of the Evil One, as a man. In other words, the way in which we (God’s children) inherit the righteousness of the good man (Christ) is a lot like the way in which we inherit the disobedience of the bad man (Adam).

Curious though – Far from extolling Adam’s original innocence, as Bp. Breidenthal does in his sermon, the text places no special emphasis on Adam’s original innocence. Indeed, it doesn’t seem to hint at any special niche within the life of a Christian, for this original innocence. 

Nor is sanctification in this in-between age, grounded in where we are with respect to the Garden of Eden. Rather, we are often called to be like Christ because of what He has done for us. This is referred to among theologians as the Indicative / Imperative, and has been around for a while already. 

I like this excerpt from the folks over at the White Horse Inn: 

“If the indicative tells us who we already are in Christ, the imperative instructs us in how we should therefore live out that new reality. If certain traits are expected of a vet, so too there are certain effects of being in Christ. Throughout the New Testament – the epistles, especially – we find doctrinal sections followed by ethical sections. Now in church today we turn that around. We make the ethical the really important stuff (the Christian life) and then if we have time we’ll talk about the doctrine. But not so in Scripture. You find the first section of the epistle devoted to doctrine and the second part of the epistle devoted to life. And it’s all divided by one simple conjunction: “therefore.” For instance in Romans 6 – we’ll be taking a look at this tonight – after Paul unpacks the indicative (who we already are in Christ), he turns to the practical effects. “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” ” 

– White Horse Inn Commentary (“July 23 Commentary: Justification and the Christian Life”)

 

So no, we can’t go home again to Eden, let alone attain a re-pristinated original innocence. But then, Eden isn’t home for God’s children, and never was. 

Nor was innocence ever the goal of Eden. 

Not then, and not now.

– Elder

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